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The Maastricht Diplomat

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It's been a party

Just like every week, a lot has happened. Here are some of the main stories from around the world that you might have missed. Let us begin with none other than Sinterklaas, as it is Sint Nicholas today! I hope that most of you received something nice stuffed into your shoes this morning. This leading up to this holiday there is the perennial discussion on the controversial Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas’s sidekick. Protests have been leading up to this for a while and this week was not different. Anti-racist demonstrations and pro-Zwarte Piet demonstrations are happening across the Netherlands, most notably in Amsterdamn this week.

Aside from this, other things have happened in Europe. This week we saw the resignation of a Hungarian MEP for having been caught up in a storm over the hypocrisy displayed both by a member of an EU institution not adhering to Covid-19 regulations and by a member of a homophobic party that while in government has actively suppressed LBGT+ rights. For those who missed it according to Brussels police Jozsef Szajer and 24 other men were caught by participating in a sex party even as the country is still under lockdown.

Other positive news is that Britain’s regulators have this week authorised the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine. This comes as a first. Another first is that Russia has already started inoculating public servants with their Sputnik-V vaccine. However in the EU, US, and many other places the regulators are still reviewing all the phases of the research and will probably soon issue a verdict.

Speaking of Britain and the EU, a Brexit deal was not clinched last night during a phone call between the Commision president and the British Prime minister. Instead they agreed that there was still more to negotiate and have organised to have a blitz of negotiations this coming week. Meanwhile the deadline is coming ever closer and the cliffedge of a no deal brexit is increasingly likely. Both sides are continuing their game of high stakes chicken.

Jumping across the Atlantic, the Georgia runoff election that will determine whether the Democrats will take the Senate is heating up. With President Trump holding a rally in Georgia to support the two Republican senatorial hopefuls. In this rally he repeated his attacks on the legitimacy of the election and that Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, should overturn the results and “get a lot tougher”. President-elect Biden won this state by a thin margin and the Democrats need both seats that are up for grabs to clinch the Senate. However, some Republican’s are worried that Trump's attacks on the legitimacy of the election will hurt turnout. The runoff election will take place on the 5th of January.

In India there have been major protests by farmers who feel slighted by the national government. Many farmers have headed towards big cities, mainly the capitol; turning out in historic numbers. The government has attempted to quash these protests to no avail. This could be due to the salient nature of the protests. The farmers fear the proposed measures by the ruling BJP for industrialising farming and reducing protective measures where the government would act as the middleman between farmers and buyers. This would hurt Indian farmers and cost many their livelihoods during an already economically tough time, to put it lightly. The farmers are accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for pushing agricultural reforms under the radar due to the pandemic. Modi is following through on election promises of industrialising India further, and these agricultural reforms are a part of this. Currently the government has done little to assuage the farmers and the protests continue.

Finally the conflict in northern Ethiopia, the Tigray region, is still hot. There is an ever mounting number of refugees heading for the Sudanese border. This week the Ethiopian federal government has claimed that it has all but won with most of the commanders from the TPLF having been captured, killed, or turning themselves in. Meanwhile the TPLF leadership have claimed that the federal forces and that Eritrean forces have been committing crimes against humanity. Both these claims are unsubstantiated and there has been no evidence produced by either side. The federal government has agreed this week to create a corridor for humanitarian aid to help the people affected in the Tigray region. There are also growing worries about the refugees hosted by Ethiopia and being affected by this conflict. The conflict continues and there is a fear that it will have staying power and spill into the region as a whole, dragging in Sudan, Egypt, Somalia and more; globalising the conflict. This is a very brief and surface level assessment. I urge you to read into this further.

I hoped you enjoyed this sunday summary and that you at least heard one thing that went under your radar this week.


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